FORMER encounter specialist, Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Vaze who was inducted in the Mumbai Police earlier this month, is the third “banished” encounter specialist to find his feet back in the force in the last few years.
Apart from Inspector Aslam Momin, who was dismissed from the force in 2005, and Inspector Ravindra Angre, who met a similar fate months before his retirement in 2014, majority of the “Urban Cowboys” — as the 2003 Time Magazine cover once referred to the encounter specialist — have clawed their way back into the force.
Reinstated in the force in September 2017, encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma was posted at the Anti-Extortion Cell of Thane Police by the then Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh.
Currently, the Mumbai Police Commissioner, Singh was the DCP in Mumbai crime branch in the late 90s when he had played an important role in taking on several gangsters. Several encounter specialists, like Sharma, were a part of Singh’s team then.
Sharma had eventually resigned from the force and unsuccessfully contested the state Assembly elections in 2019 on the Shiv Sena ticket from Nallasopara.
Vaze, the most recent to have been reinstated, has had a trajectory similar to Sharma, also believed to be Vaze’s mentor. After struggling to get reinstated following his alleged role in the disappearance of Khwaja Yunus, who is alleged to have been killed in police custody in 2002, Vaze had submitted his resignation in 2008, which wasn’t accepted. Vaze too, like Sharma, had joined the Sena for some time. His reinstatement on June 7 was approved by a review committee headed by Singh. Vaze was posted with the Mumbai police crime branch, a day after his reinstatement.
Inspector Daya Nayak, also an encounter specialist, was reinstated in 2012, almost six years after he was suspended following his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in 2006 for allegedly owning assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. After he was reinstated in 2012, Nayak was again suspended in 2015 for refusing to join his posting in Nagpur and proceeding on ‘sick leave’ for a long time. It was then believed that Nayak was unhappy with his posting. In January 2016, his suspension was revoked again and he was posted in the high-profile western suburbs. Recently, Nayak was embroiled in a controversy after former Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Barve issued him along with 11 other officers show-cause notices for directly applying to the state DGP for transfer to Maharashtra ATS. Three days after Singh took charge, the show cause notices were, however, revoked.
A senior officer said, “Normally, every police unit has a review committee to look after cases of suspended officers. The unit chief decides on individual officers based on several factors. Generally, it is an unwritten rule that if an officer has an ongoing trial, even if reinstated, an officer is not given an executive posting.”
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